Ekurhuleni, South Africa – Merrick Bremner fired an 8-under- par 64 on Thursday to grab the lead after one round of the SA Open Championship.
Bremner, ranked No. 500 in the world, carded eight birdies during his course record-tying opening round. The 26-year-old South African is seeking his first career win on the European Tour.
"I've just got to take the positives out of playing great, try not to think about my lead, and keep doing what I'm doing," said Bremner.
Matthew Carvell and Henrik Stenson both shot 66 at the Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate's Masai Mara Course to share second place. Alex Haindl and Craig Lee are tied for fourth place at 5-under, while 2011 Masters winner and world No. 33 Charl Schwartzel highlights a group of eight players locked in sixth place at minus-4.
"I'm just trying to enjoy the experience and see what happens," said Carvell, who is making his SA Open Championship debut. "It's nice to know I can compete with some world-class players in this field."
World No. 32 Martin Kaymer is 2-under while No. 39 Branden Grace sits at even par. Grace is looking to become the first South African to win five European Tour events in the same season.
Defending champion Hennie Otto recorded three birdies and a pair of bogeys during his opening-round 71 -- good for a tie for 43rd place.
Bremner opened with a flurry, picking up three strokes over the first four holes before closing his front nine with a trio of birdies.
After starting the back with a par, Bremner birdied the par-5 11th, then picked up another stroke on No. 16. He closed his course record-tying round with a pair of pars.
"I made the turn and started thinking a bit more and playing clever golf rather than showing too much aggression," said Bremner. "I wanted to hold my round together and post a decent score, and not come in with five or four under. So I played more conservatively."
NOTES: South Africans have won the SA Open Championship 11 of the past 12 years ... This tournament dates back to 1893, albeit as an exhibition. Next to the British Open, this is the oldest national championship ... Last year, Otto beat Bernd Wiesberger by a single stroke ... The win was Otto's second on the European Tour.